How To Host a Cookie Swap Party.

08 December 2011

Every year my girlfriends and I have a cookie swap.  One of the first ten posts here on So Wonderful, So Marvelous was about our cookie swap.  {Be kind, we’re really going back in the archives to 2007}  When we first started doing the swap, I had no idea how it worked.  I was also totally overwhelmed at the thought of baking 6 dozen cookies.  The thing with hosting a cookie party, you’re making one huge batch of one {sometimes two} kinds of cookies so it really is much easier than trying to make small batches of 10 different kinds yourself.  Plus, we love the excuse to get together and hang out.

1.  Decide who to invite. Pick people who like this sort of thing and who are responsible enough to participate… my cookie swap never includes my {almost} 21 year old sister Elise who doesn’t know how to cook. Just saying, you need to choose wisely.  We have had big cookie swaps and small cookie swaps.  There are benefits of both.  With a large swap, you get a smaller amount of each type of cookie, but a larger variety.  With a small swap, you get less variety but a larger batch of each cookie.  Smaller swaps are also much less chaotic. 

2.  Decide how many cookies.  If you’re hosting a small party {under 10 people} plan on roughly a dozen cookies per person.  If yours is really small, you can even do a dozen per person of two kinds of cookies.  If you are hosting a large swap {over 10 people} plan on half a dozen cookies per person.  Trust me on this, including more than 15-20 people is sheer madness.  

3.  Decide on a date.  Weekends fill up really quickly during the holidays and weeks leading up to them, we usually like to pick a weeknight.  It makes it easier to schedule and we can do it closer to Christmas.

4.  Decide on a location.  You’ll want to have enough space to spread out all the cookies.  Pick a place that has a big dining room table or a large kitchen island or plenty of counter space.

5.  Choose which cookie you will make and ensure there aren’t duplicates.  Now, here is where it gets a little tricky.  Some people have rules that it can’t be this, can’t be that, no candy,  no chocolate chip cookies, has to only be a Christmas type cookie, etc…  We’re never that strict.  My sister Lyndsey hand rolls and painstakingly dips dozens of Buckeye candies for us each year and that counts as her cookie.  Our rules are loosely this, choose a cookie that will travel well, try to choose a cookie that is on par difficulty-wise with what everyone else is bringing, and make them pretty enough to eat.  If we have two cookies, I try to bring one easy one like my 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies and then one more complicated one, like vanilla-almond cut out cookies.  I almost always make a batch of rolo turtles or dipped pretzel rods and throw those in as a bonus. 

How to do the actual swap:  {This depends largely on the host, but here is how we always do it.}

  • Spread out the cookies on a table or counter top.  Tables or islands are the best because everyone just goes in a big circle.
  • Give everyone a box or if they’ve brought their own trays or Tupperware have them grab that.
  • Each person goes to each tray, leaving your own for last and chooses a dozen cookies {or however many you’ve made per person} and puts them in their box.
  • Move on to the next tray and continue filling a dozen at a time. 
  • Any extras can be eaten at the party or you can add more to each box after everyone has filled.

Hints + Tips to make it easier:

  • Make your dough when it is convenient and easy to do so.  Portion it all out and freeze or refrigerate until needed.  Then, bake the night before.  If you’re doing cut out cookies, you can even bake them, then freeze until you’re ready to decorate.
  • Sharing recipes is optional.  Some years we’ve brought along copies of the recipe to the swap, some years we’ve just shared it if people specifically asked.   
  • Make a couple extra cookies.  Inevitably, one or two get broken in transport and it’s nice to have a couple extras to share at the party.
  • Go to your local bakery and ask to buy some boxes.  Most places will sell them to you for less than fifty cents and it makes transport home of your cookies easy!  Provide a Sharpie for people to write their names on the boxes.
  • Get the swap out of the way first.  That way the boxes to take home can be stacked up and you can pull out appetizers or drinks or chat until your heart is content.  Anyone that has to leave early can do so, you can relax and enjoy your friends, and everything is ready to go home with your guests.

So that’s it.  Have you hosted or been to a cookie swap?  Leave your tips and hints in the comments!  I’d love to hear how you do yours!


Amy said...

I was *just* thinking about that cookie swap the other day, as I hung my tampon angel on my tree!

Amy said...

Well, well, looks like you screwed up with Rule #1 by inviting me! ;)

Amy said...

Love this idea! I may try to get one of these together for next year. Thanks for the tips :0) said...

What a great idea. All of us girls at work are getting together with our kids to decorate cookies for Christmas. I am excited.

Kelly said...

Are you doing one this year? Why wasn't I invited? lol

Linda said...

I love a big crowd ( I figure if I'm going to clean my house, someone had better show up!) so I offer a brunch buffet and if some of the ladies from church dont want to bake cookies , they can just come and eat and share in the Christmas spirit.

Jessica @ Acting Adult said...

That's a great idea to purchase boxes from bakeries! I've participated in a few swaps and really enjoyed them. I think I want to plan one for next year maybe, with our group of friends. The ones I've been to are sometimes awkward because I only know the host.

This Confetti Life said...

I've been wanting to do a cookie swap for years! My aunt does one every year and always has so many delicious cookies out during the holiday.

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